My apologies, I have made a significant mistake in reporting this story. A corrected version appears below:
A dozen bishops, led by the Rt. Rev. Thomas Ely of Vermont, have filed a resolution calling on the Program, Budget and Finance Committee to submit a budget to the General Convention that reduces to 15 percent the percentage of diocesan revenue to be committed to the budget of the wider church in 2016-18.
I had previously reported that the bishops wanted the asking cut to 15 percent for the 2013-2015 triennium as well. This is incorrect.
The resolution would set 15 percent as the maximum diocesan asking for the 2016-18 triennium, and require dioceses that could not or would not pay the 15 percent asking to request a hardship waiver from Executive Council.
The text of the resolution follows:
Submitted by the Right Reverend Thomas C. Ely Endorsed by the Right Reverend James Curry, the Right Reverend Geralyn Wolf, the Right Reverend Michael Curry; the Right Reverend Gordon Scruton, the Right Reverend Scott Hayashi, the Right Reverend Todd Ousley, the Right Reverend Greg Rickel, the Right Reverend Neff Powell, the Right Reverend Rayford Ray, the Right Reverend Kirk Smith, the Right Reverend Porter Taylor
Resolved, the House of ______________concurring, That the 77th General Convention direct the Executive Council to prepare and the Program, Budget and Finance Committee of General Convention to present a budget to the 78th General Convention in which Diocesan Commitments for funding the budget are set at a rate no higher than 15% for each year of the triennium (2016-2018); and be it further
Resolved, That the member dioceses of this Church commit to pay the full asking percentage as established by the budget approved by the 77th General Convention for the coming triennium (2013-2015) if their financial circumstances so permit, and be it further
Resolved, That the member dioceses of this Church commit to paying the full asking in the 2016-2018 triennium so long as that asking is no higher than 15% for each year of the triennium, with the expectation that the minimum commitment from each and every diocese of this Church shall be at the asked level no later than 2016; and be it further
Resolved, That those dioceses unable to make the minimum commitment by 2016 submit a hardship waiver request to Executive Council for review, and be it further
Resolved, That the Executive Council has authority to grant such a hardship waiver as necessary and when accompanied by an action plan appropriate to the circumstances of the diocese seeking the hardship waiver that will lead to full participation in the covenanted asking commitment by a set date.
Explanation: The amount asked from dioceses for the General Convention budget has been around 21% for over ten years until dropping to 20% in 2011 and 19% in 2012. The draft budget for 2013-15 continues with a 19% commitment asking.
Only 46.8% (52 out of 111) dioceses have made a commitment of 18.5% or higher for 2012. For many dioceses, the inability to make a commitment of 19% is not for lack of desire to do so, but rather a reflection of current financial realities, suggesting that the 19% number is unsustainable. In addition, more and more dioceses are offering less based on missional priorities that demand a more equitable offering to the wider-church budget in order to better respond in an adaptive fashion to The Five Marks of Mission at the diocesan level. Some dioceses have chosen not to pay the full asking for other reasons.
A strong mutual commitment to fund our common budget is essential for any plan to work. Encouraging full participation and holding one another accountable for our shared participation in the budget covenant we make at General Convention is a key component of this resolution. If the financial commitment by all dioceses of our Church was at the 15% level in 2012 there would be $1.5 million more than is currently pledged. That difference could be used to offset revenue not received due to approved hardship waivers.
General Convention has an opportunity to act now and acknowledge both the economic and missional realties at the diocesan level. By planning for a reduction to 15% or lower in the triennium following the 78th General Convention (2016 -2018) and by encouraging those who are able to give above the 15% level in the coming triennium (2013-2015) to do so, the General Convention will send a positive signal of support to dioceses as they seek to faithfully engage God’s mission.